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August 23, 2017

  Australia—Update on Lobster Farming Research  


Commercial hatcheries that market spiny lobster seedstock do not exist, but the interest in farming spiny lobster is high due to favorable market demand, high prices in Asian markets and the static nature of the wild fishery.  Research into the biology of spiny lobsters, also known as rock lobsters in Australia and New Zealand, is not new.  The initial propagation studies were undertaken in Japan in the 1800s.  The larval phase of up to seven species was completed in Japanese laboratories between 1960 and 2000.  Spiny lobster propagation research has since been undertaken in a number of countries including Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, India, United States, Mexico and England.


For the last two decades, spiny lobster larval propagation research has been focused in Australia and in recent years at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS, in Hobart).


Australian lobster research has had long-term government support through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC), the Tasmanian Government, the Australian Research Council (ARC) and private equity.  The current research program at IMAS focuses on commercialization of the hatchery technology supported by an ARC grant of $5 million through the Industrial Transformation Research Program.  The ARC funding targets collaborative research between industry partners and Australia’s best researchers.  The ARC Research Hub for Commercial Development of Spiny Lobster Culture Systems is a collaboration with the University of Tasmania, University of Auckland (New Zealand), University of the Sunshine Coast, and Australian industry partner Plastic Fabrications Group.


The ARC Research Hub for Commercial Development of Spiny Lobster Culture Systems studies three spiny lobster species: Panulirus ornatus (the tropical spiny lobster), Sagmariasus verreauxi (the eastern spiny lobster) and Jasus edwardsii (the southern spiny lobster).


Recent research has focused on P. ornatus because of its favorable attributes for farming.  It has a relatively short larval duration (3-4 months), a fast growth rate from juvenile to an adult size of one kilogram (15-18 months), recognition in the market place as a premium product and an existing growout sector (based on stocking wild juveniles) established in South East Asia.  P. ornatus has a wide natural geographical range across tropical regions of the Indo-Pacific.


The other two species are temperate-water species found in southern Australian waters and around New Zealand.  S. verreauxi has a relatively short larval period compared with other temperate species and provides potential opportunities for commercial aquaculture and enhancement of the wild fishery.  J. edwardsii is fished in Australian and New Zealand.  Due to its slow growth rate, research is focused on determining the suitability of seedstock production for enhancement of the wild fishery.


Developing an effective manufactured diet for the phyllosoma phase (larvae) of spiny lobsters has been a major challenge.  Previously larval rearing relied on the use of fresh and live products that had inherent biosecurity and health risks associated with their use.  They were a prime source of disease during culture.  Researchers have now developed diets to meet the nutritional requirements of phyllosoma that significantly reduce mortality at metamorphosis, and the team has developed specialized techniques for the measurement of feed intake in phyllosoma.  Led by Professor Chris Carter, the Research Hub is now focusing on the development of effective juvenile growout diets and further optimization of the larval diets.


Information: Associate Professor Greg Smith and Professor Chris Carter (, University of Tasmania, ARC Research Hub for Commercial Development of Rock Lobster Culture Systems at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS, 20 Castray Esplanade, Battery Point, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia).


Source: International Aqua Feed.  Editor, Simon Davies (Phone +44-1242-267700, Email  Expert Topic Lobster: A Dream Soon To Become a Reality/Sustainable Farming of Lobsters?  Greg Smith.  Volume 20, Issue 7, Page 30, July 2017.


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